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2024 Hall of Fame: John Hurd

June 7, 2024

A Laramie High School graduate in 1983, John Hurd’s entire career has been in the trades. Though he started in construction, then moved on to gain some experience in the logging industry, he has always had a love for cars, with influence from his brother.  Finding his way to Wyoming Technical Institute, he graduated from the Collision Refinishing w/ Upholstery program in 1989 & 1990. He didn’t know or understand at the time just what impact those 9 months at WyoTech would provide; nor could he have imagined the career journey and the amazing industry experiences he would have in the future. After graduation, he continued work in construction, spending evenings and weekends working on cars.  He opened “Creative Customs”, an autobody paint & upholstery business in Laramie with his dad in 1991.

His trade education career started in 1992, teaching Custom Paint at WyoTech in the evenings with his former instructor, Kim Helgeson. In 1993, when another former instructor, Carl Miller, called with an opportunity to teach Trim & Upholstery, a 25-year career with WyoTech and trade education was launched. John describes the opportunity to work with students in the classroom by delivering a lesson and sharing a skill as a “career highlight” that drove him to learn more and become the best he could be.  He was promoted to Assistant Coordinator of the Collision Department at WyoTech in 1996, and, over the next 5 years, he and Carl Miller helped to grow the department to nearly 400 students.  

2001 opened the door into school operations, and through the encouragement of Jim Mathis, John became Operations Coordinator, working with the Campus Housing and Physical Plant teams. A highlight of this experience was working closely with Dave Kuhn and his team on the various campus projects, and gave John a whole new appreciation for those that manage student housing!

In 2003, after the acquisition by Corinthian Colleges, John and a small group from WyoTech left for Pelham, Alabama, for a new school start up- Virginia College Technical (VC Tech). This experience expanded John’s program & curriculum development skills, adding state/national program accreditation and school operations experiences. After an acquisition of VC Tech, a call from mentor and friend Andy Vignone in late 2006, sent him to California as president of WyoTech’s Sacramento campus in 2007. The next 5 years provided tremendous leadership experiences and continued growth in his industry network.

In 2012, he transitioned into an Industry Relations role for all of WyoTech, representing the brand at industry trade events across the country. A highlight of this experience was the development and startup of the Mack & Volvo Truck DATE program at the Blairsville, Pennsylvania, and Laramie, Wyoming campuses. In Nov 2017, after another acquisition, a decision was made to shut down all remaining WyoTech campuses, but by early 2018, he was fortunate to work alongside Jim Mathis and team assisting on the business plan to save WyoTech that ultimately has been a huge success.

In 2019, his career shifted out of trades education back to construction as store manager in Billings MT for RDO Equipment Co, the largest John Deere Ag and Construction dealership group in the country. The WyoTech experiences continue to be used daily in operations, team leadership, curriculum and program development. In 2021, he led a team of construction industry partners creating Build Montana, a high school internship program introducing students to career opportunities in construction. He maintains his connection with WyoTech, recruiting for RDO at career fairs and serving as a board member for the LoveTrades Foundation. He also serves on the boards for the Montana Contractors Association Education Foundation, Montana Equipment Dealers Association and Montana Skills USA.

Alongside John in this journey has been an unwavering faith in God, his amazing wife Mindy, son Jacob, and daughter Jaylin.  John would also like to recognize and thank Marlowe Jones, the Diesel Coordinator for years at WyoTech in the 80’s and early 90’s. Marlowe started the Peterbilt program in the late 90’s, which would eventually became Advanced Diesel. Marlowe was married to Mindy’s former sister-in-law and introduced John to his now-wife Mindy in 1996.  He was a great friend. If it wasn’t for WyoTech and Marlowe Jones, the two would never have been connected.

Alongside him in this journey has been his amazing wife Mindy, son Jacob and daughter Jaylin.  Meeting his wife was made possible by a dear WyoTech friend, Marlowe Jones, and an unwavering faith in God.

When we asked John what advice he would give to someone who is just starting his or her journey in the trades, here’s what he had to say-

Be patient, listen and learn from others in the trade. Keep learning and growing in your trade, excellence isn’t a race, it’s a journey. Don’t be the one to say no…say yes…let someone else tell you no.